It has been almost 10 years since the Fraxel Laser revolutionalized laser skin resurfacing. Fraxel was the first fractional laser – it induces skin renewal by creating microscopic wounds in the skin, allowing new skin to grow, while preserving the integrity of most of the skin surface so that downtime is minimized. This is in contrast with older ablative laser resurfacing techniques, which I described previously, where the entire skin surface is vaporised by a laser then slowly re-epithelised : the downtime was unacceptable long, and there were many complications, especially in darker skin types.
Fraxel Re:store VS CO2 Lasers
In recent years, more and more fractional lasers have emerged. Some technicalities first – Fraxel Re:store is an Erbium: Glass laser. When you hear about ‘carbon dioxide laser resurfacing’, for example, the eCo Laser, the laser used is a Carbon Dioxide Laser.
How do they differ?
The different mediums cause the laser beam to behave differently. The Fraxel Re:store causes just heat damage to the skin, and does not vaporise it. This is in contrast to the cardon dioxide lasers which do. Hence, the Fraxel Re:store allows for more precise control of depth, more versatility, and also has less down time. After Fraxel Re:store, you will just look red – like after a sunburn, but after carbon dioxide fractional laser resurfacing, you will probably have to hide at home for a few days as your skin will start to bronze and peel.
True Skin Renewal with Excellent Safety Profile
Despite all the buzz about the newer machines, I am still a big fan of Fraxel for a very good reason – the treatment is very very safe. The most common complication of laser skin resurfacing, especially in Asian and darker skin types, is hyperpigmentation – this can show up as darkened patches on the skin, or just generalised dullness. What I love about the treatment is that with proper post laser care, the risk of pigmentation is very low – much lower than carbon dioxide lasers, even in the darkest skin types. And because it is so safe, I also use Fraxel often on other parts of the body like the chest and hands to reverse the signs of aging.
Many people have the impression that Fraxel Laser is only good for treating depressed acne scars. While Fraxel is excellent for that purpose, its effects go much further. By resurfacing the skin gently, Fraxel corrects all skin problems associated with aging – enlarged pores, sun damage, dull skin, skin laxity, fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation. With Fraxel, the skin receives a true skin renewal to restore it to its youthful state.
After the initial course of 3- 5 treatments, I have many patients who come for the treatment half yearly or yearly, to maintain the anti-aging effects.
Fraxel Light – For The Busy Man and Woman
Most people hesitate to undergo Fraxel as they cannot afford the post-laser redness of 4 – 6 days. To solve this problem, we have come up with a novel treatment – The Fraxel Light, a modified version of the Fraxel treatment such that our patients can still benefit from the results of Fraxel Laser Resurfacing, but without the downtime. By adjusting the treatment settings, we are able to deliver the laser treatment such that there is now only 1 day of mild redness, which can be covered easily with makeup.
The trade off is that instead of the usual 3-5 sessions, you will need about 8 treatments to achieve good results from the treatment. 8 sessions may sound like quite a lot of treatments, but to put things into perspective, if you were to undergo a non-ablative laser such as the Pigment Laser for melasma, you will require up to 20 sessions to achieve similar results. Hence, for the working man and woman, the Fraxel Light is an extremely beneficial treatment to improve skin texture, pigmentation, skin tone, and pore size, and acne scars. It usually takes about 8 sessions to see good results.
A Godsend for Melasma
I previously wrote about melasma and how difficult it is to treat this pigmentory condition from hell. The Fraxel Light has revolutionalized how I treat melasma. Melasma is an unpredictable timebomb – it can worsen when you treat it with lasers. However, with the Fraxel Light, I find that I am able to achieve consistent, predictable lightening of the melasma. Coupled with the fact that there is very little downtime, the treatment has been a godsend, for both my patients and I. Remember, however, that melasma can never be fully treated – Fraxel Light improves the condition, but over time, the melasma will come back.
One of the ladies with melasma who underwent the Brilliant Skin Program looks so flawless now that every time she visits me at the clinic, I always forget how far her skin has improved, and will ask her: “you have some make-up on today?”
To which she will reply gleefully: “No, nothing at all!”